I’ll be going to visit some family in Chattanooga in a few weeks and we plan to take a couple days to visit this park. I’ve never been before, any tips for a first timer, best rides to hit etc?
Funny you asked because I just
hit up the park yesterday! I was getting ready to post a trip report, but I’ll share with you my experience of Lightning Rod to give you a good idea of what to do.
Also, this is my second time ever going to this park. My first time is when I visited last year to go on Lightning Rod. Low and behold, the ride goes under the knife for maintenance just a mere week before I arrive! WOMP WOMP.
Fast forward to July 20th (yesterday) when the ride is back open. Arrived at the park RIGHT at opening. Hit up Lightning Rod first thing. Unfortunately just 15 min into the queue, they evacuated the line because the ride was down and it would take a while. I leave and go on Blazing Fury and Tennessee Tornado next (Probably my second favorite coaster at the park). As soon as I get off of Tornado, I look at the Dollywood app (Which I STRONGLY recommend downloading to stay up to date with wait times), and read that the ride is OPEN.
I rush down the hill to Lightning Rod to get in line. 25 min in, they announce they shut the ride down and once again have to evacuate the queue. This is around noon-ish. At this point I’m getting a little frustrated because I’ve already cut out some time to try my one shot at this ride and it’s still not working. Disgruntled, I head back up the hill to go on Wild Eagle and Firechaser.
Now I’m really close to boarding Firechaser and I see that LR ride is now open again but with a 35 min wait! After I get off the ride, I rush down there, only to be greeted with a two hour wait. A little annoyed, but grateful just to go on the ride at this point. About 3/4 of the way in line, they make the announcement that they’re delaying the ride a little bit so they can take off a train, putting the ride down to ONE train. I’m sorry, but why on God’s green earth would you willfully decide to run one train ops on your flagship ride, which also happens to be your most unreliable ride? But no matter, we were just about there anyway.
After all of the hassle, I got to ride! That thing is a BEAST. It‘s a top 10 coaster for sure! If you love roller coasters, this is a must! It was worth all of the disappointment and struggles trying to ride. After I rode, The wait died down to 80 min. It remained open for the rest of the evening and the wait time kept going down the later it got.
So all of that to say, I would try Lightning Rod first, but be warned, despite the big overhaul, it’s still having a LOT of problems. If it breaks down and you have to leave, try again in the afternoon. I would just focus on the back of the park and go for Firechaser then Mystery Mine first. Those two rides have the worst capacity and get the longest lines. Then do Tennessee Tornado and Wild Eagle as they both have better capacity and Wild Eagle has EXCELLENT ops.
I know this is a long post, but last few tips: the rides close at 9 (or 9:30 because of the fireworks) since it’s peak season, so if you get there at opening, you should have plenty of time to do the rides you want to do and take everything in. The lines die down around 4 so everything else (at least when I went) were down to 20/30 min for everything else except Lightning Rod.
Oh, and if you don’t get cinnamon bread, you haven’t been to Dollywood. Just keep in mind the line can get up to 30 min, but they won’t run out. Just get the cinnamon bread!
I know that’s a lot, but hope this helps!